14 Jun 2015

Thousands of Fijians apply for NZ residency

9:00 am on 14 June 2015

Almost 9000 Fijians have applied for only 250 ballot places to give them a shot at gaining residence in New Zealand.

It is the first time Fijians have been allowed to apply for a spot in the Pacific Access Category ballot since the military coup of 2006.

Immigration New Zealand has apologised for a technical error that meant applicants in Fiji had to wait a week to find out whether they had won places in the ballot.

But many had already been waiting for almost a decade to apply after sanctions were introduced against Fiji.

The high number of applicants means each had less than a three percent chance of winning a place in the electronic draw.

Immigration consultants said many of those applicants who got a spot then failed to meet job, language and health requirements to apply for residence.

Consultant Atesh Narayan said that means many of the sought-after ballot places were wasted.

He said: "If a person does not get a job offer within an eight-month period, then he just misses his place and those people who missed out will have to pay $30 and do it again next year."

He suggested a certain proportion of places should go to Fijians already working and settled in New Zealand who would meet immigration criteria.

Fijians pay $70 plus fees to enter the ballot.

1,100 places are available for Samoans, with 250 for Tongans and 75 people each from Tuvalu, and Kiribati.

More than 22,000 applications were received this year under the Samoan Quota and Pacific Access Category.

Another immigration adviser, Russell Page, said Fijians had been waiting a long time to apply through the ballot and that had created a bottleneck this year.

Mr Page said parents and siblings found it harder to get residence than in the past, so the ballot offered a chance for some people who were not eligible for other visas.

He said it was a lottery and then successful applicants faced the difficult hurdle of finding employment before they gained residence.

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